Interview with Charlotte Jee
Ahead of next week’s Woman in Tech Speak Up event – which our own women in tech are looking forward to – we asked the host, reporter and founder of Jeneo, Charlotte Jee, a few questions.
Charlotte is editor of Techworld. She previously covered tech in government, politics and the public sector for Techworld, CIO UK and Computerworld UK, and before that was assistant editor of Government Computing magazine. She has contributed to the New Statesman, Private Eye and Radio Four.
Here at AC we have noticed that attendance to tech events and conferences is often very male heavy (roughly a 1/10 ratio) is this what prompted you to start Jeneo?
I have noticed this too – it’s impossible not to really! However my main impulse for starting Jeneo was specifically the lack of diversity among speakers at events. You might have heard the quote ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’, and it’s something I agree with – it’s hard for women and other under-represented groups to get ahead within tech if there are no role models for them. I got so frustrated at the lack of women as speakers at tech events, I started complaining to organisers. I frequently got told ‘there just aren’t enough women working in this sector’, suspected it wasn’t true, and started compiling this list to prove it. There are actually an awful lot of women working in tech if you take the time to find them. Months later, I launched Jeneo with the aim of helping match women working in tech with event organisers. It’s early days, but I’m optimistic for the future.
Your bio for Techworld says you’re particularly focused on government and Public Sector – what drew you to this sector?
To be honest I haven’t reported on government day-to-day for about two years, but it’s true I still follow government tech news. I did an MA in Political Journalism and my first journalism gig was for a magazine called Government Computing, and it’s an area I’ve always had a soft spot for. If a startup building an app fails, it might be interesting but ultimately not have that much of an impact, beyond the founders. When government tech doesn’t work, it means people can be deprived of their benefits or even life-saving services – look at the WannaCry attack and its impact on the NHS.
What’s your top tip to help tech companies boost their gender diversity?
Think carefully around recruiting – how many senior technical women do you have right now? If none, you’ll have to work hard to convince your first hire that you are committed to changing the ratio and have plans to do so. Pay careful attention to wording of job adverts and keep unconscious bias in mind when hiring.
With thanks to Charlotte for her time, see you next week!